About MeI live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where I explore the deeper reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem while also trying to raise awareness about light pollution and the importance of dark skies through photography and video.
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During my trip to the southwestern United States this past fall, one of my destinations was Chaco Culture National Historic Park, or more commonly known as, Chaco Canyon. Turning off the highway overrun these days with traffic for the oil and gas industry, I began the winding journey down the back roads to Chaco Canyon, only to find 15 miles in that the campground was full. An amazing thing about Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. A downside to Chaco Canyon is that it’s in the middle of nowhere. The nearest lodging, assuming I wanted to go that route, was over two hours away and I wasn’t quite sure just how far back the oil industry was destroying our beautiful BLM lands, so camping anywhere nearby was out of the question. I pulled out my atlas and found two national monuments still in northwestern New Mexico, but neither of them terribly close, either being a good bet for camping though.
Light on the walls at Pueblo Bonito create an abstract photo in Chaco Culture National Historic Park.
It’s easy to enjoy receiving feedback from others, and in many cases, it provides helpful tips and techniques to help us evolve. There are times, however, where we let other peoples’ opinions dictate how we should be following our passion. Consistently following their advice, no matter what their rank or recognition or how well-meaning they mean to be, can be detrimental to your work.
The title of this blog post could be misinterpreted to mean create a body of work that awes and inspires them, rather than giving them something to critique. Yet I don’t mean that at all. When I say "silence your critics," I mean let them say whatever they want, but don’t let somebody else’s subjective opinions define how you should express yourself.
Throughout the road trip that I returned from earlier last week, I was telling people that one of the places that left a lasting impression on me was Chaco Culture National Historic Park, aka, Chaco Canyon, and the ruins found therein. The entire complex is quite mesmerizing and is well worth the journey into a completely remote area of northwestern New Mexico.
There is one set of ruins, however, that is closed off to public access due to its fragile nature. Erosion from tourism forced the park service to shut down the Sun Dagger site, which rests at the top of a lone butte called Fajada Butte, rising out of the desert floor at the mouth of Chaco Canyon itself. The site made incredible uses of petroglyphs to mark the equinoxes from both the moon and sun using spirals carved into boulders as light broke through other boulders.
The ruins at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, New Mexico lie beneath a sun-lit canyon wall.
Sometimes, if you don’t go into a road trip with the right mindset, it can be just as stressful as staying home and working. Friends and I poke fun at people all the time for taking hurried vacations where we witness them arguing with each other and frantically trying to reach point B as quickly as they can, passing by amazing sights and experiences along the way.
Yet when I left on my trip last week, I was anxious to get to the southwest, so I blew right through western Colorado. Once I made it to southwestern Colorado, I began trying to dodge a snow storm a few days out and found myself jumping from one site to another in a hurried pace to make it farther south to warmer temperatures.
The caves beneath the surface at Carlsbad Caverns National Park were not only a spectacle to see, but were incredibly larger than I ever thought they could be. The features of the caves were mesmerizing in their scale and well worth the hike from the entrance to the end.
The best time to visit White Sands National Monument of course is either during sunrise or sunset so that the plants cast long shadows stretching out over the dunes. Of those two times though I’d much rather go during sunrise. While we were there at that time we saw only one other car.